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Rustom Z. Birdie resigns from USAC after months of controversy

By Elizabeth Case

April 13, 2011 4:23 a.m.

Financial Supports Commissioner Rustom Z. Birdie voluntarily resigned at the undergraduate student government meeting Tuesday night, concluding months of controversy.

In an Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting kept open to the public, many members of the council made it clear they were disappointed not only with Birdie’s conduct, but with the deceit that followed.

“In closed session, you had the opportunity to be very forthright,” President Jasmine Hill said to Birdie. “Now the story has changed.”
During the meeting, General Representative Matt Spring called for a vote to remove Birdie from the council and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kinnery Shah supported him.

Spring and Shah are both from Students First! while Birdie is a member of Bruins United. These slates are groups of students who run on platforms, much like political parties. General Representative Gatsby Miller, also from Bruins United, said he hoped slate politics were not a part of council members’ opinions.

In November, Birdie signed a contract with Jobbook.com, which guaranteed him shares in exchange for promoting the site.

Because of the controversy, Birdie filed a petition asking the Judicial Board to investigate and provide its opinion on whether his involvement was inappropriate.

Last week, the USAC-appointed board found Birdie guilty of “wrongdoing” for failing to disclose his relationship to the council and for using office resources to promote Jobbook.

However, the justices said USAC was responsible for deciding whether to punish Birdie. No official ruling was made, and USAC was not bound to follow the justices’ recommendations.

Birdie prepared a statement before Tuesday’s meeting, admitting that he lied to the council, but asking that it consider all of his service to USAC and the fact that there were only three weeks left in his term.

But Berky Nelson, the USAC administrative representative, said he believed honesty and honorable conduct should be the first and foremost goals of any student government.

“I cannot function assuming that students are not telling me the truth,” he said.

After about an hour of discussion, Birdie informed the council that he would submit his resignation shortly. He left the room shortly after. Birdie did not respond to a phone call Tuesday night for comment.

“I think Rustom stepping down took tremendous effort on his part,” Miller said.

With only three weeks left before elections, the council discussed how best to handle Birdie’s departure. Hill said she was unsure if she was going to appoint a replacement. The responsibilities of the office will fall to the FSC chief of staff ““ Anthony Beightol, Birdie’s roommate and a third-year sociology student ““ until the position is filled.

With reports from Serli Polatoglu, Bruin contributor.

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